Over the last several years, Jon Moore has done a tremendous job advancing our understanding of the intersection of age and market share receiving production. Today, I’ve enlisted Jim Kloet to help present these visualizations for the 2017 class. In this post, we’re focusing on the super sleepers from the final two tiers in the RotoViz Scouting Index. – Shawn Siegele
How important is market share and age?
In Part 1, we talked about the large gaps in age-adjusted production between first-round busts and second-round hits. You’ll be surprised how much older and less productive those first-round misses were. Those lessons quickly came into play as we saw the charts for Mike Williams and John Ross lagged behind not just Corey Davis but also JuJu Smith-Schuster and Isaiah Ford.
In Part 2, we got a look at the buzz-heavy crowd and explained why Chris Godwin and Zay Jones make better targets than Carlos Henderson or Taywan Taylor.
In Part 3, we examined the cluster of prospects still buoyed by media scouts and found a few interesting names in Josh Malone and Josh Ferguson. We also eliminated land mines like Artavis Scott and Ryan Switzer.
Today, we’re diving into the final two tiers to look for the best 2017 sleepers. Late round picks are obviously long shots for NFL relevance, but they make the best stories when they do hit.1
And we have some great candidates in these last two tiers. These visualizations will help you look past the familiar names to some lesser known players who created more fireworks this year than a couple of the likely first-round picks.
|Player||RSI||Birthday||Age (At NFL Draft)||Career msYD|
|Kenny Golladay||48||3-Nov-1993||23 years, 5 months||30.8%|
|Travin Dural||48||19-Nov-1993||23 years, 5 months||21.8%|
|Ricky Seals-Jones||36||5-Mar-1995||22 years, 1 month||13.0%|
|Amba Etta-Tawo||33||10-Nov-1993||23 years, 5 months||17.8%|
|Trent Taylor||28||30-April-1994||22 years, 11 months||26.5%|
|Damore'ea Stringfellow||28||18-Oct-1994||22 years, 6 months||13.0%|
|Gabe Marks||27||6-Aug-1994||22 years, 8 months||18.5%|
Jim explains why he will be rounding down the player ages to the next full year in his High-Level View of the 2017 Class.
It’s easy to see why the fourth tier prospects land further down the RSI. Every player from this group finished below the class mean market share of receiving yards (msYD) for their age-19 seasons. Gabe Marks, Damore’ea Stringfellow, and Ricky Seals-Jones all finished below the average in every single season.
Trent Taylor is the possession threat in this group. Taylor led Louisiana Tech with 1,803 receiving yards, an advantage of more than 250 over his more highly-regarded teammate Carlos Henderson. He also easily dispatches the trendier Ryan Switzer. His Freak Score of 15 was dead last among the 51 receivers at this year’s combine. That calls his NFL viability into question but also creates a buying opportunity for an elite producer.2
Amba Etta-Tawo’s final year numbers are almost identical to Biletnikoff winner Dede Westbrook, another player who broke out at age-23.3 I assumed the difference in enthusiasm surrounding these two players must reflect a sharp contrast in athleticism, but then Etta-Tawo ran a 4.49 forty at the combine and notched a 58 Freak Score. Inside the lines, the Syracuse star dazzled with a highlight catches.
Kenny Golladay is the clear leader in this group with three elite seasons, his age-20 and age-22 seasons separated by a transfer from North Dakota to Northern Illinois. Over his final two campaigns, Golladay posted identical market share numbers to Corey Davis. His brilliant play was highlighted by a 2016 season in which he recorded 1,356 yards from scrimmage in only 12 games despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks. Golladay’s size at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds gives him true No. 1 potential, and his 4.5 forty translates to a Freak Score of 69.
|Player||Birthday||Age (At NFL Draft)||Career msYD|
|Jerome Lane||9-Mar-1996||21 years, 1 month||32.0%|
|Keevan Lucas||10-Apr-1995||22 years, 0 months||29.5%|
|Zach Pascal||18-Dec-1994||22 years, 4 months||25.5%|
|Shelton Gibson||20-Mar-1994||23 years, 1 month||18.7%|
|DeAngelo Yancey||18-Nov-1994||22 years, 5 months||20.0%|
|Noel Thomas||18-Sep-1994||22 years, 7 months||23.8%|
|Darreus Rogers||3-Sep-1993||23 years, 7 months||10.3%|
|R.J. Shelton||6-May-1994||22 years, 11 months||12.3%|
You’ll notice the outstanding career numbers for Keevan Lucas and Jerome Lane. This jumps out in the chart as well.
While it may seem like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel by extending our analysis to Tier 5, the receivers in this group have better charts than those in Tier 3 or Tier 4.
If Lucas isn’t my favorite player in this class, he’s close. Unfortunately, a pedestrian combine derailed any momentum he might have generated from a 3-TD bowl game. That final performance capped a prolific career where he scored 32 TDs in 41 games despite suffering a patellar tendon tear during his junior season. Willie Snead is the first name that comes to mind with Lucas, and Titus Davis is his top comp in the Box Score Scout.4
According to Patrick Kerrane, Jerome Lane checks all the boxes. And Pat has a lot of boxes that need checking.5 You can see from the graphic that Lane’s age-adjusted production is outstanding with both years above 30 percent msYD.
Zach Pascal logged four solid seasons for Old Dominion, including a fantastic age-20 campaign where he recorded 38 percent of the receiving yards and 40 percent of the TDs. He also added 285 rushing yards and 651 kick return yards. He’s another solid size/athleticism specimen with a 36-inch vertical at 219 pounds.
Noel Thomas needed a big combine to draw attention to a 2016 season that was off-the-charts, almost literally in this case. Unfortunately, a 4.63 forty and 32.5-inch vertical likely consigned him to priority UDFA status. He has been invited to the local pro days for the Jets and Giants.
While the rest of this group is less appetizing, Anthony Amico makes a compelling case for Shelton Gibson. The West Virginia product is a vertical receiver who dream-sequenced the combine, but both scouts and the box score suggest he plays much faster than his 4.5 speed. Gibson averaged 22.6 yards per reception on his 1,898 career receiving yards. There have only been 11 WRs since 2000 to post career yards per reception over 20 on at least 1,500 receiving yards.
If you’re looking for QB projections, RotoDoc’s groundbreaking QB model explains why Mitchell Trubisky looks like a star and Deshaun Watson a player to avoid. On the RB front, Kevin Cole provides his logistic regression model and demonstrates why D’Onta Foreman is undervalued. Meanwhile, Phil Watkins has you covered at TE, showing that 4 Elite Sleepers Join the 4 Stars to Make This The Best TE Class in Years.
We have a wealth of research on the WR position, if you’re looking for the freakiest of the freaks at the ultra-athletic WR position, take a peak at the 2017 WR Freak Scores. You can take a class-by-class stroll through the career trajectories of 2017 prospects starting with the true juniors, or peruse the final age and production numbers with Moore’s Phenom Index.
- Both the real life stories, and the stories you get to tell your friends about how you selected Antonio Brown or Stefon Diggs with that fourth-round rookie pick they said was worth less than the roster spot. (back)
- He posted strong numbers in the three-cone (6.74) and short shuttle (4.01). (back)
- Etta-Tawo actually owns the slight edge. (back)
- For NFL teams who aren’t in a position to nab Corey Davis, his similarly productive older brother has floated on practice squads for the last two years. They’re basically the same guy unless you think size matters. (back)
- 10 to be precise. (back)